Big, suspenseful, realistic but not to the point of disturbing the atmosphere, and above all engaging, Outbreak is a phenomenal thriller. It’s perfect for those lazy Sundays when you simply don’t know what to watch. Offering a gripping and foreboding tale of a deadly outbreak of deadly disease, it taps into our deepest fears. We don’t have to go far in our history to get to instances where the fate of entire humanity was at stake. The Spanish flu epidemic of 1918 was one of the warnings and I shouldn’t even mention the infamous Black Death. As I already said, a perfect movie to watch while you’re queasy from last night’s drinking.
Loosely based on Richard Preston’s nonfiction book, The Hot Zone, Outbreak taps into our deepest fears. And I will skip the whole HIV angle, as I don’t want to turn this movie recommendation into a rant. We will be following a team of a scientist trying to prevent a deadly outbreak that could potentially wipe out the entire human population. So, the stakes could not have been higher. But don’t worry, Outbreak is one of those old-school nineties thrillers that are more entertaining than ominous. The atmosphere is rather casual, broken up by sometimes unintentionally hilarious dialogue. For example, within the first five minutes of this movie, we get the line “Get the plane, Billy”. However, there are also some pretty fucked up scenes.
Virologist Sam Daniels just got a very tricky job. He’s been sent to Zaire to figure out what kind of new and deadly disease appeared there. With a mortality rate of 100%, he pinpoints the source relatively easily to a single man. What he doesn’t know is that there’s a certain package on its way to the States. A very dangerous package that could mean the death of millions.
One of the things that make Outbreak such a great movie is its cast. Hoffman, Russo, Freeman, and motherfucking Kevin Spacey were all great. Not to mention the supporting cast. They knew exactly what type of movie this is and played their characters pitch-perfect. Now, I don’t want you to think that this movie is all laughs and giggles, because it most certainly isn’t. When you realize just how easy it is to spread it and get sick, this nervous feeling starts creeping up on you. As you might have imagined, this is a big movie with a pretty hefty budget. This means we will get those big shots of helicopters flying, laboratories looking realistic as shit, and hundreds of extras.
All this helps you immerse yourself into the story that Outbreak is trying to tell. You will feel relatively safe on the other side of the screen. However, it will leave you with a feeling of what if this actually happened… Finally, if you’re looking for more movies about epidemics check out: Contagion, Carriers, and The Crazies. And if you want some good old fashion eighties stuff, I highly recommend Warning Sign, it’s pretty tight.
Director: Wolfgang Petersen
Writers: Laurence Dworet, Robert Roy Pool
Cast: Dustin Hoffman, Rene Russo, Morgan Freeman, Kevin Spacey, Cuba Gooding Jr., Donald Sutherland, Patrick Dempsey
Fun Facts: When the monkey in the pet store reacts to the fish tank crashing and is frightened by the noise, the trainer merely cued it to laugh which made the monkey appear to be frightened.